Why it's all about usage in cleaning supplies


If your role involves procuring cleaning supplies, then getting to grips with usage is all important. As with other categories, information on how products are used matters because this knowledge can generate big benefits in cash flow and user satisfaction terms.

Cleaning products can be seen as functional and bought time and again, without understanding what’s in stock, what they’re being used for and if these are really meeting business and end user needs.

To get better value from sourcing and suppliers, procurement teams should consider:

Evaluating inventory

Getting a handle on what products are held and where is just as important to something as seemingly straightforward as cleaning as any other goods in the business. If the same stringent inventory processes aren’t being applied to cleaning supplies as elsewhere, make moves to change this. Improved inventory monitoring will monitor excesses and shortfalls and ensure less money is tied up in un-used product.

Speaking to users

Going on a journey with the people using the products will uncover what is being used and what isn’t, and why. Spend time with users, or ask your cleaning supplies partner to do this, to see how users really work with the cleaning products you’ve procured.

Users may be reluctantly deploying a particular product, putting another to the back of the cupboard or wishing they could have an alternative because they know it does the job better. Unless you or your supplier investigate this properly, there’s every chance product is going to waste or being excessively used.

Embracing change

When it comes to cleaning supplies, procurement teams can rely on what they believe is tried and trusted. The risk of making a ‘wrong’ decision often means procurement sticks with what it knows, without realising that good evaluation of usage and working in detail with end users will help them to ring the changes in a relatively risk free way. The truth is that sticking to what feels like a safe repeat purchasing decision could be sending more cash out of the door than necessary.

Prioritising effectiveness

Some cleaning ranges are more fit-for-purpose than others because they get the job done quicker and need less product to be effective. However their occasionally, marginally higher price tag can deter procurement from considering them. This can be a mistake because while cheaper product may look good on paper, it’s not always so good in real life use.

A frequently occurring problem is cheaper product needing to be used in larger quantities and so having to be replaced more often than its more effective equivalent, which ultimately costs the business more.

Train the users

End users are the essential link in the chain. If people don’t understand how to use new, or existing, products or how to maximise their benefits, even the best products risk being wrongly used and the organisation spending far more on cleaning supplies than it needs to.

People can be resistant to change so this needs to be countered with hands-on workshops where users can discuss their challenges, talk through the processes they usually follow and learn how to adapt their way of working to guarantee optimum effectiveness.

Buyers who help their supply chain partners to engage with end users and facilitate training are also less likely to deal with disgruntled users further down the line.

By uncovering the issues, speaking to the people who handle the product and being prepared to think twice about what you’re procuring and why, cleaning supplies procurement can make a significant contribution in demonstrating improved spend management.

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